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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Officials identify challenges to improving public health

Officials identify challenges to improving public health

Officials identify challenges to improving public health

Budget shortages and a lack of knowledge about hygiene practices complicated efforts to improve people’s health through access to clean water and toilet facilities in the Kingdom last year, according to a report released at the Ministry of Rural Development’s annual conference yesterday.

Chea Samnang, director of the department of rural health care, said in a speech at the meeting that officials were attempting to encourage people to build and use toilets, to wash their hands with soap after defecating and before eating, and to drink clean water.

“We aim for . . . all people in rural areas to use toilets and live in a good environment by 2025,” he said, adding that the ministry aimed for 30 per cent of people to have access to clean water by 2015.

Chea Samnang also suggested at the meeting that the state budget for promoting hygiene practices and educating people about sanitation should be increased.

The report stated that last year, 90,000 toilets were sold at discounted prices in six provinces through the Ministry’s Sanitation Market Program, but that the Ministry faced budget shortages for hygiene programs, and that some people did not spend money on proper sanitation and struggled to understand hygiene practices.

“The ministry has plans and strategies to improve hygiene in rural areas including explaining to people how to build toilets for their families, supporting the good hygiene program for floating villages in Kampong Thom and Kampong Chhnang provinces and continuing to educate people at the commune-village [level],” Chea Samnang said in the speech.

Ky Sophal, deputy director of the Ministry’s department of rural health care, could not be reached for comment yesterday, but has previously told the Post the government spends about 1.8 billion riel (nearly US$450,000) a year to promote hygiene in Cambodia.

Nima Asgari, a public health specialist at the WHO, said yesterday bacteria and viruses could pass from faeces to drinking water and food if there was not a clear delineation between the two, potentially resulting in diarrhoeal diseases.

WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY MARY KOZLOVSKI

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